Glow Worms as a Tourist Attraction in Springbrook National Park: Visitor Attitudes and Economic Issues
Insect-based tourism mainly caters to a niche market, but its popularity has been growing in recent years. Despite its popularity this form of tourism has remained under-researched and in a sense its contribution to the tourism industry has gone mostly unnoticed. This paper reports the results of a study undertaken on one form of popular insect-based tourism, namely glow worms. The study was undertaken in Springbrook National Park (Natural Bridge section) southeast Queensland, which has one of the largest glow worm colonies in Australia that attracts thousands of visitors each year. A study of this form of tourism is important and useful for several reasons. It is important to understand this hitherto under-studied tourism activity to determine the type of visitors, their socio-economic attributes, economic benefits to the local economy, visitors’ knowledge of glow worms, education imparted, visitor satisfaction of glow worm viewing and visitor attitudes for the introduction of a user fee system to view glow worms. An understanding of these issues could not only help to better manage this valuable biological resource, but can be used to develop the industry to cater to a growing number of visitors. Tourism in glow worms can potentially be used not only to educate the public on the threats affecting glow worms and their colonies, but could also be used to conserve them. Lessons learnt from glow worms as an attraction to Springbrook National Park can be used to better manage and further develop other existing and new glow worm sites in Australia and elsewhere for tourism. Furthermore, it could provide some guidance for the management and development of other forms of current insect-based tourism activities (eg. butterflies) and develop new tourism ventures based on species such as stick insects and jewel beetles for which Australia is well known (Reader’s Digest, 1997)
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